Grapes: 80% Merlot, 4% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Petite Sirah and 8% “other”
Region: Wild Creek Canyon, California
It’s a new year, full of possibilities. New exercise regimes, new dieting fads, new budget dedication, and any other new resolution that will most likely fade as we enter the second month of the new year.
My biggest resolution this year is to get my budget in check. I’ve been spending like an asshole on wines all in the name of “research” [burrrp]. If I EVER want to put in that oh-so-desired wine cellar and continue my international travels, I need to reign it in! But I will not sacrifice taste. Well…
Just as I’m committed to tightening up my budget, I’m committed to drinking wine, dammit. I’m kicking this year off with a CK Mondavi Merlot. With a mere $6.99 price tag, this has weeknight “skank” wine “sampling” written all over it. It’s a no frills bottle of red that’s as easy to drink as it is to open (thanks to the twist-off cap).
This wine is a burst of cherry and plum flavors. It’s quite fruit forward but not like actual grape juice. (I found the CK Mondavi Cab Sav to, ahem, embody more of that fruit juice flavor.) This, at least, has some oaky hints, which provide some structure.
Again, this CK Mondavi Merlot isn’t some Master Sommelier-caliber, complex, expensive, multi-layered vino. It is however, shall we say, community college-fortified. It’s practical and will give you what you want without breaking the bank.
Happy New Year’s and now, I’m off to visit the gym. . .for the THIRD time this year.
You’ve sat down and gobbled up a hearty meal. What are you going to have next? Sure, the obvious and easy choice is to serve pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin parfaits, pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin Pringles and any other tweaked out form of pumpkin you can think of. Perhaps one of those goddamned pumpkin spice lattes? You know those things are laced with carcinogens, right?
Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. The more I say that word, the more it sounds like some kind of penis enlarger you’d find in a SPAM email (probably from someone named “Tabitha” or “Emmanuelle”).
So, what do I associate with the Fall season? Apples, hay rides, leaves changing colors, new school year, knee hight boots, hot tea, football, soothing soups (and yes, my mom’s pumpkin squares) are what come to my mind. Not to mention, the Autumnal color scheme is a Redhead’s best friend.
I have a new addition to that aforementioned list: Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling. Late Harvest Riesling is a dessert wine that is made with grapes that have stayed on the vine as long as possible without a frost, until they’ve shriveled up into grapes chock-full of concentrated sugars.
Airfield Estates is in Yakima Valley, Washington and they’re making some goo-ood wines; their Late Harvest Riesling being one of them. This wine is luscious. It’s thick without being syrupy. It’s sweet without being flabby. It’s seasonal without being overly determined.Honestly, it’s smooth and honeyed with peach and apricot tastes and smells. It’s not all candy, though. There’s enough acidity to help give it structure and make it a pleasant after dinner palate pleaser. I don’t typically gush about dessert wines but I’m in love and that’s why Airfield Estates Late Harvest Riesling is my white wine of the week!
Switch it up a bit after dinner, serve Late Harvest Riesling alongside a cheese course. (How European) It’s simple and it will make you shine in front of company. You can make your cheese board pretty by adding some hazelnuts, almonds and dried apricots. Visit my trusted friend and certified cheese professional, Liz, at Lunds NE.
I love these cheeses with this wine and I recommend sampling them in this order:
3.) A Blue cheese such as Saint Agur. (Monts du Velay, France)
Or, if your sweet tooth is nagging you, creme brulee and flan are both great options. I recently had panna cotta and that knocked my socks off of my ass. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been pumpkin. A pumpkin to smash, that is.
Or better yet, to carve a gnarly barfing face into.
Grapes: Vinho branco: Arinto, Ferñao Pires and Vital. Rose: Castelão and Camarate. Red: Castelão, Touriga Franca, Cabernet, Syrah
What do you know about Portuguese wine? Scratch that, what do you know about Portugal? Admittedly, I’m quite ignorant in the Portuguese department. I only saw one travel program on Portugal and it mainly focused on the Azores islands off the mainland: Portugal Azores
Now that’s a bucket list item!
Well, I’ll leave it up to you to do your own Portuguese exploring. I’m not going to get all Rick Steves on your ass. What I will do is let you in on the Portuguese wine exploration I’ve been doing as of late.
It all began when a friend and I went to a Portuguese wine dinner at Cafe Ena some time back. I remember that each of the wines we tasted (which are too many for me to remember – seriously, I couldn’t keep track.) all tasted wonderful. It had that unique ‘terroir’ taste to them. Now, it could also have been the dreamy Mediterranean wine makers pouring and explaining their wines that had me enchanted, but I’d like to think I was mainly judging from my upper lips.
But where could I find more of these wines around town? Well, I’m delighted this line of wines from Portuga have made it across the Atlantic to the local scene. Without hesitation, I tried the white, rose and red. All of them are bang-for-buck Savvy Lush picks, I knew I couldn’t write about just one.
Like a typical tasting, let’s go from light to dark. I’m going to list the grape varietals but I’m not going to attempt to give a pronunciation key. Have you tried to speak Portuguese? It’s a tougher language than you might think. I believe it’s a cross between Spanish and French. (To my ears, it sounds like Barcelona accented Spanish, but only when the tongue is held firmly between the index finger and thumb.)
Portuga Vinho Branco (aka Vinho Verde)
This is patio wine pure and simple. What do I mean by that? I mean with it’s lower alcohol content, and chilled temperature, you could sip this all day long on the patio. (No one has to know how ripped you are, and it may help you tolerate that yippy neighbor dog.) It’s bright with a slight hint of effervescence. It smells fresh, a bit grassy, a bit citrusy and a bit rounded- an easy pairing with Summer foods. I’ll boldly assert that it pairs well with an asparagus frittata.
I mean c’mon. It’s a rosé. I’ve only met two rosé’s in my life that I balked at, ever. This is not one of them. This is a wonderful blend of Castelão and Camarate. No oak flavor, just easy to drink with crisp minerals dancing around the tart strawberry deliciousness. Drink it alone, or with, well, ANYTHING.
A blend of Portuguese Castelão, Touriga Franca, Cab & Syrah. Hell yes, this is yummifull! Red berry fun, light vanilla & spice. It’s smooth & medium bodied. Soft tannins but enough to give this wine some heft. If you like Zin, give this a try. Great with BBQ, grilled mushrooms, or what I had, garlic bread (and not even the good homemade stuff, I’m talking the $1.99 Coles garlic bread from the freezer aisle. You know, red packaging with loaves that bake up all buttery, salty & greasy?)
So you see, I’ve literally-ish drank the Portuguese kool-aid and I’m in on its seduction. These wines are right in my wheelhouse: delicious daily drinking on a dime. I hope I’ve persuaded you to give one if not all of the Portuga wines a taste. If I were a true hipster, I might say “Portugal is the new Spain”. However, it might be more fun to say it whilst holding your tongue.
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